What Can Help Your Child Feel Secure in Your Relationship?

Did you know that when a parent knows or is decisive about what to do next with their child, the child gains confidence? It’s called mirror neurons. A child will reflect or imitate our actions. If we are anxious and unsure, the child will be anxious and unsure. If we are calm and confident, then…well you get the idea.

A few weeks ago I attended a seminar about the Circle of Security. This is a simple model for parents to use in attaching to their children. In the world of foster care and adoption, this usually is a challenge.  Below is a diagram describing the Circle of Security.

Circle of Security

A young child usually will go around this circle several times in an hour especially if in a new environment. A teenager goes around the same circle of security it just looks a little different. Instead of the exploration lasting just a few minutes, it will be hours, days, maybe months at a time. But they still need us as parents to watch over them, delight in them, and help them when they need help. Eventually they will return home for protection, comfort, and processing.

We as parents, whether of a young or older child, need to be a safe haven and a secure base for them.

Here is a great short video that explains this circle of security in more depth.

A child begins this journey the moment they are born. They constantly are exploring their new, scary world. If their parent is their to protect, soothe, and delight in them, then they confidently venture further out into this world. The cool thing is that our natural instinct as parents is to do exactly this for a newborn child. Take a look at this precious video of Baby Oliver waking up:


As parents and caretakers are normally drawn to a newborn like this. We want to protect and comfort them.

But what if Oliver woke up in an orphanage with no one there for him? Or what if he woke up in an abusive home? How would his wiring and ability to attach be different?

Sadly children from a hard place often miss out on the bigger, stronger, wiser, kind caretaker/parent in their life. For some, it might be for a few hours or days because of a neonatal medical cause. For others it is more chronic like abuse or neglect.

Main Takeaways

  • I can tell at any moment where my child is on the circle—exploring their world, returning home, or in their safe haven. When you identify this, you can easily tell what they need from you.
  • My abilitytoprovide a secure and safe for them to return willgreatlydetermine how well mychildattaches.
    • Secure parents can stand back and see what they are doing (and not doing) for their children. (Dr. Kent Hoffman)
    • Secure parents can admit where they struggle and, for the sake of their children, work to find another way. (Dr. Kent Hoffman)
  • I need to learn to be with my child enough so that they feel like they are on their own.

I could keep going, but I hope this interests you enough to explore this concept. If so, please visit CircleofSecurity.net.

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I am a longtime Austinite. Married my beautiful wife over 25 years ago. Adopted our son September 2012. Currently a writer and loving it. Previous jobs and careers include project management, missionary, and pastor. I enjoy sports (both watching and playing), traveling, reading, digging in dirt and hanging with my friends and family.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “What Can Help Your Child Feel Secure in Your Relationship?

  1. What I didn’t realize at first, is that sometimes extraneous variables negatively affect the circle. (Acid reflux is a common one among infants!) It’s easy for a parent of a child to get discouraged when their child doesn’t form secure attachments, but even among the “normal” population, insecure attachments happen. For fostered and adopted children, however, the rate is more than doubled because of the lack of adult interaction their first few months of life. Unfortunately, foster kids are placed too late and the effects have already reared their head. I think mindful practice of the circle from the moment they are placed in your care gives them the absolute best chance at establishing trusting relations. I think it has to be emphasized over and over too.

    • Great insight and advice Kristina! I agree with “I think mindful practice of the circle from the moment they are placed in your care gives them the absolute best chance at establishing trusting relations. I think it has to be emphasized over and over too.”
      Thank you.